We Asked, The Mayoral Candidates Responded

Our five questions included a variety of topics not covered thoroughly during the campaign thus far

The race for mayor of Wilmington will be decided on Tuesday, Sept. 13—the date of the primary election. As everyone in the city (and county, and state) knows, whoever wins the Democratic primary will be the next mayor. No Republican has registered to run for the office in a city whose electorate is overwhelmingly Democratic.

As a service to Out & About readers, we posed five questions to each of the eight Democratic candidates and the lone Independent. The questions were created in the spirit of what O&A is—a lifestyle magazine with strong emphasis on arts, culture and a thriving Downtown. They are questions that have not been asked numerous times in other interviews or debates, and they were worded in a way that we hoped would elicit thoughtful answers.

Candidates received the questions in late June and were given more than two weeks to respond. Thus, they had time to ponder and develop their answers—no pressure, no gotcha moment. We asked that answers be kept to no more than 100 words, although that word count was sometimes exceeded. As a result, some answers were edited to fit available space.

Below are the questions, followed by the candidates’ answers. Candidates appear in the order in which they responded.

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?
2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.
3. Out & About feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene
reach the next level?
4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?
5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

 

Washington
Steven Washington

Steven Washington

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

A unique and culturally diverse community facing major challenges WE SHALL OVERCOME if we change our mindset and work together for the greater good of all citizens of Wilmington.

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

My decades of community work with Wilmington students as a special education teacher and my work with historically black colleges and universities as evidenced on my Channel 28 TV show at 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month. Most importantly, I am NOT a machine politician. I am an independent factor dedicated to serving all of the people of Wilmington.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

WE must first change our city culture from the politics of exclusion to the politics of INCLUSION based on EDUCATION, appreciation and communication. As mayor, I will work closely with Wilmington’s artistic, cultural, professional and academic community to encourage a vibrant, lively and attractive cultural scene.

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

Ensuring safe and well-maintained streets and other public infrastructure. Making Wilmington more business-friendly by removing arbitrary regulatory barriers and improving city government’s efficiency and attitude towards economic development and entrepreneurship by personally working with business leaders, job creators and innovators at all levels, large, medium and small. I will take a more INDEPENDENT and innovative community-based, post-political approach. As mayor, my office door will be open to all people.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

None of the above. This is a major reason why I am running!

 

Griffiths
Norman D. Griffiths

Norman D. Griffiths

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

I would describe Wilmington as a city on the move with enhanced arts and entertainment venues (e.g., The Queen, the Grand, the Penn Cinema theaters, a minor-league baseball team and more).

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

The development of the arts district, especially The Queen theater and the variety of entertainment it brings to Downtown Wilmington.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

If I am fortunate enough to be elected the next mayor, I will carefully review the city’s current efforts to support the arts and with input from the arts community, move forward to reach the next level. I believe that the arts and cultural events are very important to the community and after I get my arms around our current efforts, work to include appropriate city officials and the arts community as well as other stakeholders to move this important part of Wilmington’s future ahead.

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

I believe the City has such a role. Curbing violence is number one on my priority list. People must feel safe in visiting venues in the city. As stated in a prior response, I would look carefully at the marketing efforts of the city currently and improve them as needed to promote the arts to people, not only in the Downtown area, but all over New Castle County. This is not to suggest that I believe all current efforts need to be swept away and replaced. I would want to build on what we’re already doing and based on what I find, suggest improvements or new direction if appropriate.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

If I were not a candidate for mayor, I would support an individual with experience, accomplishment and a broad view that looks beyond the present to what Wilmington can be in growing into an arts destination for people all over our region.

 

Purczycki
Mike Purzycki

Mike Purzycki

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

I often describe Wilmington the way others who visit us describe it. It is a beautiful city with an attractive Downtown, a magnificent Riverfront, an appealing array of neighborhoods, and compelling public spaces. It has great cultural institutions for a city its size, a young tech community, a vibrant arts culture, a number of entertainment venues and some great restaurants. Like many aging cities, it has too many people who live in poverty and our crime rate is a drag on our community’s success and economic growth. But our crime is a symptom of neglected neighborhoods and public policy failures which are fixable with the right policy decisions and initiatives. Wilmington has the potential to become one of the nation’s great small cities.

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

After leading the Riverfront Development Corporation for 20 years it is hard not to list the many accomplishments of the RDC as things of which I am most proud: $1 billion of development, the Riverwalk, the Tubman Garret Riverfront Park, 7,000 people working in Wilmington and 1,400 living here. The IMAX, the Westin, the many restaurants and the Peterson Refuge. But maybe the greatest contribution I have made is as chairman of the Hope Commission, leading the construction of the Achievement Center where men coming out of prison finally have a chance to successfully reintegrate into our community.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

I agree that one of Wilmington’s strengths is its arts and culture scene. The only way we are going to move it to the next level is if the city administration is a true partner with our arts organizations. We all must be working towards a common goal—introducing more and more audiences to the diverse arts experiences our city has to offer. I have said many times that the mayor of Wilmington has the second loudest megaphone in the state. I will use this megaphone to promote our great city and its fabulous arts organizations, all across our region.

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

The city government is responsible for creating the environment that attracts investment, artists, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs. This includes a safe, welcoming environment, economic supports for start-up businesses and employment incentives to encourage economic clusters to locate along the Riverfront and Downtown. Apartment development has been very successful to date. We need to encourage additional developers to build in the city by streamlining our approval process. Lastly we continue to make the Downtown the dining and entertainment center of New Castle County.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

If I did not run I would vote for a candidate with the calm of Norman, the neighborhood knowledge of Kevin, the youthful exuberance of Eugene, the city government knowledge of Theo, the legislative experience of Bobby, and the tenacity of Maria. What a candidate! Then again, this candidate would still lack the experience of building and operating a grand and successful development project.

 

Dennis Williams
Dennis P. Williams

Mayor Dennis P. Williams

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

If I were describing Wilmington to a friend, I would share that we’ve started defining a new Wilmington. We started working to build safe and strong neighborhoods. We are creating sustainable job opportunities for local residents. We opened our doors to welcome new businesses and development projects that have created new economic growth across the city. We introduced new arts and cultural events and free music festivals to bring a vibrant energy Downtown. We started establishing new opportunities for our youth through job programs, internships and countless extracurricular activities. Wilmington is becoming a city that is approachable, fun and vibrant.

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

I take the most pride in creating more opportunities for city youth by increasing the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program and Mayor’s Scholarship Program. Over the past three years, my administration continues to increase the funding for and number of participants in the Summer Youth Employment Program. In 2013, 425 youths worked in the program; in 2014, 487 youths participated; in 2015, 520 youths participated; and in 2016, with the support of Bank of America, 548 youths will participate in the Summer Youth Employment Program. My administration has also more than quadrupled the funding for the Office of the Mayor’s Scholarship program.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

I believe embracing and engaging with the arts community will further the arts scene in Wilmington. As mayor, my administration has supported existing arts institutions. For example, giving $50,000 to help save the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and more than $200,000 to the Grand Opera House to produce “Summer in the Parks,” a program of free arts and cultural activities in parks across Wilmington. We also work to create new arts and culture activities, such as the first-ever Rodney Square Summer Stage concert series, a free concert series taking place in the heart of Downtown Wilmington, where attendees are able to enjoy free, live performances.

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

Under my leadership, Wilmington is becoming a center for new small businesses, an attractive place for a new wave of residents moving Downtown and along the Riverfront, and a municipality operating a more effective government. However, we must also ensure our city is rich and full of arts and culture. Year after year, my administration has filled the streets and parks with free concerts, live musical performances and block parties. Our production of live music festivals, film events, holiday celebrations and monthly art shows will continue to encourage more people to experience Downtown Wilmington.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

If [the current candidates] were my only choices I would have to come up with a write-in.

 

Marshall
Bob Marshall

Bob Marshall

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

Wilmington is a diamond in the rough. It is a friendly and great place to live and work, it is situated in the middle of some of the most popular cities in the U.S. and you can live here for a fraction of the cost. I am confident that we are a city on the move to a better and safer quality of life for all residents. Just know Wilmington is a place with nice people, a growing Riverfront for entertainment and a Downtown that has the capacity to grow an arts community where the sky is the limit to its potential.

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

During my career in the Delaware State Senate, a chance meeting at a Memorial Day parade with former Gov. Russ Peterson led to my sponsorship on June 25, 1992, of Senate Resolution #62 that created the “Blue Ribbon Task Force to Make Recommendations Concerning the Future of the Brandywine and Christina Rivers.” On June 14, 1993, Gov. Carper issued Executive Order #8 and continued vision for the rivers task force that led to a $300 million investment by the state—the rest is history through 2016.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

I’m not an expert but I appreciate the value and importance of the arts and culture for our city. Within the last few months I learned and made an effort to secure a state-owned land for a Rock Garden Downtown on West 7th Street and secured from the Senate/House Capital Improvement Committee $70,000 for the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation to sponsor a city-wide neighborhood mural program. The concept is to create canvas murals that can reflect the proud history and rich cultural heritage of all Wilmington. Most recently, I supported Delaware Fashion Week, created by Maria Beauchamp.

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

The city’s role I believe is based on a need to think big, recognize the state government is a necessary partner to grow a vibrant Downtown with people living, entertainment and green space. My strong recommendation is for the city elected officials, city, county and state business community leaders to urge Gov. Markell to adopt and appoint as recommended in Senate Resolution #12 a “Blue Ribbon Task Force to Make Recommendations Concerning the Future of Downtown Wilmington.” This resolution reflects the same state policy approach that led to the Riverfront Development.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

(Chose not to answer.)

 

Eugene Young
Eugene Young

Eugene Young

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

The first thing I would say is that our greatest asset is our people. I was born and raised in Wilmington, which is where the importance of service was instilled in me. Growing up, neighbors treated me like their own son and I learned change happens when we each do our part. This sense of community responsibility and engagement is why I believe Wilmington has the opportunity to be the proof point for the nation for how to turn a city around. I would tell my friend that Wilmington is a city full of opportunity.

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

Outside of the titles of “husband” and “father,” the title that will always mean the most to me is “coach.” I co-founded Delaware ELITE, a leadership development program designed for inner city youth and for the past 10 years offered students access to skills training, cultural events, educational opportunities and internships. I worked with students, many of whom experienced trauma in their lives, to move into high school, college, and now into careers. Wilmington needs to focus more on its young people if we ever hope to stop cycles of violence and poverty.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

The next mayor of Wilmington needs to prioritize arts development throughout our city, from Browntown to Hilltop, and from Southbridge to the North East. What we need to do is help jump start growth by taking proven models of public-private partnership and investment and, through close collaboration with community groups and civic associations, explore ways that these models can be custom tailored to celebrate the unique character, and address the unique challenges, of our many and diverse neighborhoods. City government needs to ensure that opportunities are available to facilitate partnerships and empower our neighborhoods so they can lead the way.

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

The Downtown suffers from a lack of housing stock, limited walkability and perception of high crime that impacts development and ultimately the city’s economic and social health. The city needs to take a more active role in programs like the Downtown Development District, which makes it possible to attract real estate investors by incentivizing them to invest in revitalization projects in underserved areas. Programs like this help to leverage public and private investment to boost the development of the Creative Arts District, create new housing opportunities, and better connect communities to create a flourishing Downtown area.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

There are three qualities I believe are essential to being an effective mayor. They need to have a proactive long-term strategy of where they want Wilmington to be 10, 20, 30 years from now. They need to create new policies that drive towards this long-term strategy. Finally, they need to be engaged with all areas of the community (e.g., civic, business, faith, legal, academic, labor, etc.) to bring about this vision. I believe all the other candidates care deeply about our city, and also believe I have the right balance of skills in all three of these areas.

 

Theo Gregory
Theo K. Gregory

Theo K. Gregory

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

Wilmington is a small urban paradise. Its diversity is reflected in its neighborhoods, restaurants, nightclubs, parks and many spring and summer festivals. We are, in fact, the City of Festivals.

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

In my efforts to ensure the development and education of our children, I initiated and led efforts in the creation of the Police Athletic League Activities Center, Maurice J. Moyer Academy (Public Charter School), an athletic field in Eden Park as well as renovations and enhancements to P.S. DuPont athletic field. As president [of Wilmington’s City Council] I created nonprofit Education Voices, Inc. to advocate for special needs students in public education.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

As mayor I will enhance our Office of Cultural Affairs. I will ensure that the office is connected to all of the art communities. I will ensure that the art venues and opportunities are plentiful and diverse.

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

The mayor must be the voice and ambassador for the city. The Office of Economic Development must work closely with all communities in this effort. We must have such things as events, attractions and incentives that will encourage people to live, work and visit Downtown as well as other neighborhoods.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

I’d rather not answer this question as all have something to offer and the vetting process has not concluded. It’s premature to answer, so I’m an undecided voter in this regard.

 

Maria D. Cabrera
Maria D. Cabrera

Maria D. Cabrera

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

I love Wilmington. I raised four children here. We are the city of untapped potential. We have a thriving arts scene. Our neighborhoods come together to celebrate good times as well as times of crises. We have potluck dinners in a small café or porch parties with neighbors. We are close to major cities, for those who need to conduct business in this region. We have two rivers, beautiful parks and neighborhoods. We are affordable in terms of buying property, taxes and rentals. We are the city of festivals! We highlight our jazz greats like Clifford Brown, legends like Bob Marley, as well as our ethnic backgrounds. Many of our neighborhoods are tight-knit. And although we need to expand those values into our blighted areas, we are the city of opportunity!

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

I served the city in the mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, then at the Grand Opera House as director of education and community relations, and now as at-large Council member. I believe my greatest accomplishment has been making an impact on economic revitalization through the arts and special events, expanding upon the city events, creating new ones, and growing existing programs at the Grand. As a Council member I have been active in problem-solving and implementing legislation around public safety and quality of life.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

As mayor, I would work to make sure the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs reestablishes The Wilmington Arts Commission or an arts roundtable for all arts organizations and request their input in our strategic plan. In Delaware, $9.9 million is generated through the arts. The Office of Cultural Affairs would lend the necessary support and serve as a clearinghouse for services and possible grant dollars to not only local arts organizations but businesses and individual artists. Expanding arts programs into the community and bringing more entertainment into the city will help revitalize our economy and neighborhoods. The Office of Cultural Affairs should not be competing with the community it serves but working hard for that community in enhancing the arts in Wilmington!

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

The Mayor should be the number one cheerleader in attracting businesses, as well as people to reside in our city. The city needs to be more user-friendly for businesses and residents through incentives to businesses and residents versus fines and predatory enforcement. This should be a priority of the next administration. We need to stabilize distressed neighborhoods that are adjacent to Downtown. The only way to do this is by addressing public safety issues within these neighborhoods. Investment in those neighborhoods is crucial, and so is elimination of the criminal activity that takes place there.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

The reason I am running for Mayor is because when I stood back, waiting for someone to convince me as to why I should not run, no one stood out among this field. If I had to choose one candidate, I would choose Kevin Kelley. I believe that Kevin and I are the candidates most connected to the community, with the most foot power in our neighborhoods. We are passionate about serving the community, and always out there, no matter how dangerous or dark it is. Our city needs a leader that communicates, who is accessible, and is their voice. Not an administrator, a leader! We are not the same, nor is our plan for the city identical. In spite of that, we share many of the same values, and that’s why I would support him.

 

Kevin Kelley
Kevin Kelley

Kevin Kelley

1. How would you describe our city to a friend or colleague who has never visited Wilmington?

We are small, but look at what we have to offer! Arts, innovation, culture, location, and a diverse population of passionate people. In close proximity to a majority of the country’s population, the corporate capital of the world, Wilmington has a great business environment and a spectacular growing cultural scene.

2. Describe a specific accomplishment benefiting the City of Wilmington for which you take the most pride.

I believe neighborhoods are the foundation of a city. Our neighborhoods should be strong, clean, safe and bursting with culture and small business. This is why I am most proud of my work in developing neighborhood planning councils and community associations. The needs of each neighborhood are so different; Wilmington is not a one-size-fits-all city, we need to be rolling up our sleeves with the residents in each neighborhood and putting plans in place to address their specific needs.

3. O&A feels the arts and culture scene is one of the city’s strengths. What plans do you have to help the scene reach the next level?

Supporting arts is a key aspect of the resurgence of our city. We need to be doing more to support the arts community and we need to start by taking a critical look at the Office of Cultural Affairs. Is it providing what the community needs? We should be letting the arts community drive our direction here, and give them better access to resources to achieve what is possible. We also need to make sure that we stay open-minded and current on what “the arts” mean. Trends change, and we need to be supporting what creative things our young people are doing. We need to support the arts in all areas of the city, not just Downtown.

4. What is the city’s role in attracting more people to live, work and visit Downtown?

We need to make the environment in Wilmington one that is inviting. Right now, with the current parking situation, for example, we are sending a message that we don’t want your business. Providing better support to the arts community is one critical way, but also to the innovation community to modernize our city and make it a place where creative people with big ideas want to spend their time.

5. If you were not a candidate for mayor, which of the declared candidates would you support? Why? (Name only one.)

(Chose not to answer.)

Worth Trying – Aug. 2016

Suggestions from our staff, contributors and readers

Constitution Yards

The new seasonal beer garden is the perfect addition to the Riverfront. Located at Justison Landing and open seven days a week, the summer go-to destination offers backyard games, classic barbecue fare and of course, a variety of beers and cocktails. Grab a summer ale and get in line for giant Jenga!

—Krista Connor, Associate Editor

Quinn’s Café

Whenever I go out to breakfast with family or friends, my first instinct is to go to Quinn’s. The eatery has been around for a while, but became known as Quinn’s Café in 2011. This Hockessin favorite tends to be a little crowded on the weekends, but the delicious food is made to order so it’s always worth the wait (quinnscafe.com).

—Emma Driban, Intern

Mini-Cannoli from Toscana To Go

I went with my mom to pick up dinner from Toscana To Go, and after I bugged her enough she let me get a dessert. But she would only let me get the cannoli because they were small and only cost $1.50. I was nervous because she said there was cheese inside, and that kind of sounded gross. I didn’t like it. I LOVED it! The outside was like a thin cookie, the inside was sweet and creamy, and there were chocolate chips sprinkled on it. You have to try one.

—Oliver Poot, 1st grader and Wilmington Resident

Movies on Tap

When the good folks at Premier Wine & Spirits sat down with our friends at Penn Cinema, they conjured up some sweet synergy. The meeting’s magic resulted in the “Movies on Tap” series at Penn Cinema, which pairs cult-classic films with seasonal offerings of local breweries. For film geeks, it’s a great opportunity to see some popular movies of the past on the big screen in a fun setting. For beer freaks, it’s a chance to meet area brewmasters and get a taste of their latest concoctions. That these nights raise money for local charities is simply icing on the cake. Caddyshack with Mispillion River Brewing, Ghostbusters with Sicilian cannoli with chocolateYards Brewing Co., Pulp Fiction with Evil Genius Beer Company and The Blues Brothers with Blue Earl Brewing Co. were big hits. This month, it’s The Goonies with 2SP Brewing Co. on Wednesday, August 17. To reserve your seats, go to penncinema.com.

—Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Worth Trying 2016 – Drink

Picks of the drink variety

White Sangria in stemware on a white background

Cocina Lolo Sangria Cocktails
Since Cocina opened (the newest culinary baby of Bryan and Andrea Sikora, located at 405 N. King St.), they’ve enjoyed a great dinner buzz. But I feel everyone should know they also have a terrific at-bar Happy Hour too (Tuesday-Friday, 4-6 p.m., with $5 classic margaritas, $3 cervezas and $2 tacos). Above all that, my favorite new thing is their homemade BLANCO (white) Y TINTO (red) sangrias: Spanish wines mixed with oodles of brandy-soaked fruits and a touch of Cointreau—the perfect “something new” for your everyday HH party. P.S., also try their mushroom fundido for another something new.

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

hop_sing_laundromatHop Sing Laundromat in Philly
The best bar within 100 miles of where you are right now. It’s this crazy hidden speakeasy in Chinatown. You give a big, scary, ex-football pro your ID when you buzz in. He disappears for an uncomfortable amount of time, then returns to read you the rules. Sneakers or jeans? Don’t even bother knocking. Take a photo, even with your phone, and you get kicked to the curb. But man, the drinks…I recently had the Funkify Your Life (Thai pepper with gin, ginger liquor, mint and lemon juice), which is so spicy if it touches your lips you are toast. But it is all delicious and worth the dance, whatever your poison.

— Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer

narrangansett-allies-donutsNarragansett Allie’s Donuts Chocolate Porter
I have a love/hate relationship with chocolate beers. Simultaneously, they’re my most favored and most detested brews. This beer is sweet as expected, and proves to be light, uncharacteristic of many chocolate-based batches. I found my pack of six at Inner Spirits in Trolley Square.

— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer

Wine & Cider-making
Creative Director Matt Loeb and I have always suggested home brewing beer in O&A Worth Trying editions, but each time we try to offer something different. This past fall, I tried my hand at making hard cider with locally-sourced apple cider from Highland Orchards. Everyone who had a chance to try it fell in love with it, and making hard cider is much easier than home-brewing beer. With wine or cider-making, you cut out the actual “brewing” part and just add some yeast to your “juice,” let it sit and follow regular home brewing procedures.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

Defiant_WhiskyDefiant Whisky
Born in moonshine country, this American single malt whisky was a spontaneous buy at Frank’s Wine. I finally tried it and was pleasantly surprised. It’s obvious that Blue Ridge Distillery mastered this blend before it hit the bottle and the shelves. It’s the perfect sipper to enjoy with holiday guests.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

old_rasputinOld Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
The eerie mystic on the label of California’s North Coast Brewing Co.’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is anything but welcoming. But the bitter brew, an enigmatic blend of coffee, dark cocoa and dark malts, is rich and smooth. At 9 percent ABV, it’s one to sip slow and savor.

— Krista Connor, Associate Editor

glass of spritz aperitif aperol cocktail with orange slices

Aperol Spritz at Capers & Lemons
I’m typically a beer and red wine drinker, but at our office holiday party at Capers & Lemons I was in the mood for something different. They had lots of delightful looking options, but our server recommended the Aperol Spritz: prosecco, aperol (an Italinan liquer made with bitter orange and rhubarb), club soda, and a splash of fresh orange juice. It was delicious! Exactly the festive-type cocktail I had in mind.

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media

dark_stormyDark and Stormy
A colleague introduced me to this concoction during a recent holiday dinner. Trust me, I will be having another. Created with Crabbie’s ginger beer, Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda dark rum, and a twist of lime, the drink has a nice bite, is not too sweet, and the perfect option when you’re looking for a break from a filling craft beer or glass of wine.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

swiggSwigg – Wine, Craft Beer & Artisan Spirits
Located in Independence Mall, David Govatos’ new shop is both stylish and thoroughly engaging for the adult beverage aficionado. It focuses on lesser known producers from all over the world, quality products are offered at very competitive pricing. One wall features an ever-changing roster of 15 red wines and 15 whites, all under $15. If craft beer is your thing, craft is all they sell. An impressive collection of local, regional and other quality American brews are chilled and ready for a session with the crew. And an outstanding selection of premium artisanal spirits make excellent gifts or additions to your liquor cabinet or winter sipping list. Located at 1601 Concord Pike, Wilmington.

— Chef Robert Lhulier

Worth Trying 2016 – Focus

Welcome to our sixth annual Worth Trying Issue. Though we feature Worth Trying suggestions monthly, each January we devote much of the magazine to personal recommendations from staff, contributors and friends of Out & About. These suggestions on where and what to eat, drink, see and do are scattered throughout these pages, interspersed with our usual assortment of feature stories, news items and other fun stuff.

Enjoy, and have a very happy New Year!

trolley_grooming_loungeTrolley Grooming Lounge
Technically, this isn’t from me, it’s from my hubby. On a tip from our bestie living in “Trolleywood,” Scott visited Trolley Grooming Lounge for a quick haircut. He loved the stylists and the chill atmosphere. It’s become location of choice for all his ‘scaping needs. (And it’s not just for the boys. Gals are welcome too, and they now have their own product line.) Best of all, it comes with the “MKF Seal of Approval.” You can “like” them on Facebook at Trolley Grooming Lounge.

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

YMCAThe Central YMCA
This time of year we all make resolutions to get in better shape, so if joining a fitness center is in your plans, pay a visit to the Central YMCA. Though the facility has been serving the Wilmington community since 1929, the fitness center is state-of-the-art, offering 96 high-end workout machines in an invigorating setting accented by a giant glass wall that overlooks 12th Street. But what’s unique about the Central Y is its egalitarian feel. One day you’ll be working out next to a U.S. Senator, the next day you’ll be sweating it out with your mailman.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

the set of items of equipment for travel

REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.), Christiana Fashion Center
When REI opened its voluminous (23,500 square feet) Christiana store earlier this fall, outdoor cognoscenti anticipated a serious dose of “wilderness porn.” The store does not disappoint. Although many sporting goods stores carry basic hiking, camping, and other outdoor gear, REI focuses exclusively on those pursuits with a larger and more varied selection of clothing and goods. The store also offers seasonal classes, trips, and bike repairs. An added benefit: REI provides a low-cost membership that gives discounts and an annual rebate based on one’s purchases.

— Mark Fields, Movie Reviewer

Himalayan_Salt_LampHimalayan Salt Lamp
These are big, hollow salt crystals that are mined from underground salt mines in the Himalayan Mountains with a light bulb inserted in the middle. People claim they can neutralize pollutants in the air caused by electronics, like TVs and computer screens, by emitting negative ions. They also claim other “benefits,” such as reducing respiratory symptoms and improving mood and creativity. I have one next to my computer screen at work, and one at home in the living room. I’m not too sure how beneficial it’s been to my health, but I think it’s definitely improved my mood and creativity, especially on rainy days. And it looks pretty cool. I got mine at Home Depot.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

good_paintGood Paint
I wanted to repaint some of the rooms in my house recently, and in an attempt to save a few bucks I bought paint from Home Depot. What a mistake! It wasn’t too long before I stopped using that stuff and headed down to Shinn’s on Lovering Avenue—where I should have started in the first place. Higher quality paint requires far fewer coats and applies so much better. And when you need advice on the best products for your job, the folks there never steer me wrong.

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media

balance_fitnessBalance That Body
At 36, it takes more effort to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. A friend and co-worker introduced me to Scott at Balance Strength and Fitness Center and I’ve never felt better. It’s conveniently located at 4th and Greenhill, so I can work a visit into almost any busy day. BalanceFitnessTraining.com.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director

john_saward-viceJohn Saward, Vice Magazine
I used to write, but I stopped when I started taking photos. Others do it much better. Take Vice Magazine’s John Saward (Google him, but be prepared to lose your afternoon). He’s young, unflaggingly honest and writes these gloriously poetic tantrums. He wrote that American Bro (“The Worst Person In The World”) article that went viral last year. I love everything I’ve read of his, and it’s been a long time since a new voice stopped me. I predict Bob Yearick will hate him because his grammar takes liberties, but they do have their similarities.

Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer

winterthurWinterthur Museum Store
This under-the-radar treasure boasts some of the most unique home-decor accessories (and wow-worthy gifts) in the state, but few know it exists—or that Winterthur conveniently allows shoppers to park near the shop instead of taking a shuttle all the way from the visitors’ center.

— Eric Ruth, Contributing Writer

glossGloss Hair & Makeup
I have been going to Tateum at Gloss for several years and love her and the salon. They always make you feel and look great. They offer a wide variety of options from wedding services to eyelash extensions. For more information, check out salondelaware.com.

— Kelly Loeb, Account Manager, Catalyst Visuals, LLC

bogsBogs
My 2-year-old daughter wanted pink boots for Christmas. I wanted to get her something warm and functional. My research led me to Bogs. The company started in Oregon with a focus on footwear for the farm industry. In addition to being super durable, comfortable, and easy to maneuver in, they are machine washable! After hearing all that, I was sold. So I was even more excited to find out that the company dedicates a portion of its sales to outdoor education and urban farming. I can’t wait to get a pair of my own. (Available online and locally at Trail Creek Outfitters in Glen Mills, Pa.)

— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media

smyrnaSmyrna
If you haven’t paid a visit to the up-and-coming little town of Smyrna recently, pick a Friday night and swing by Blue Earl Brewery for some seriously good suds, food truck magic and live music. Things get started at 5 p.m., when the designated food truck or cart (usually Mr. BBQ or The Wise Pig) starts cranking out its wares, followed by local acoustic musicians like Nik Everett and Bruce Anthony, playing from 6-9 p.m. All the while, you’ll be able to drink craft brews like Walking Blues IPA and the Top of the World Imperial Stout. The 45-minute drive from Wilmington is totally worth it.

— Rob Kalesse, Contributing Writer

 

Bald eagle.

The Conowingo Dam
A trip to the banks of the Susquehanna River around the Conowingo Dam is an excellent outdoor adventure. Birds, birds and more birds await you. Bald eagles, 11 species of gulls, blue and black-crowned night herons, terns, vultures and osprey all vie for airspace. On good days you can see more than 100 bald eagles soaring in the wind currents. There are parking and viewing spots on the Harford County side of the dam. Dress warm and enjoy the scenery.

— John Murray, Contributing Writer

River Towns Ride
Cyclists are discovering that the 10-mile stretch of road between historic New Castle and historic Delaware City is a great circuit. Both ends of the route offer fantastic views of the Delaware River, it’s mostly flat, the majority of the road is recently paved, and a wide shoulder complete with sharrows (bike path designations) allows riders to feel safe. You can do the official River Towns Ride the first Saturday in October…or you can check out the ride on your own. rivertownsride.com.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

resturant_DepotThe Restaurant Depot
Opened last February, this big-lots food wholesaler targets restaurant owners, but membership is open to owners of any business. Just provide your EIN (employer identification number) for your free membership card, and start shopping instantly. Imagine paying wholesale for items like whole beef tenderloins and pork rib racks, an extensive selection of fresh produce, frozen hors d’oeuvres, dairy, dry goods, even paper and chemical products for the kitchen, home or small business. Located at 200 Cornell Rd., Wilmington, it’s part of a chain of stores open in 34 states and first in Delaware.

— Chef Robert Lhulier

francescasFrancesca’s for Accessories
This Greenville shop is my favorite go-to when I need jaunty, fun baubles (earrings, necklaces, etc.) for dress-up or if I need a new swag bag, tote, or wallet. The staff is friendly, fun and helpful, and I always seem to walk out with something cool…mostly just what I was looking for, but also things I never knew I wanted!

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

Pure_Yoga_LOGOPure Yoga
After the crazy holiday time, do yourself a favor and head to Pure Yoga in Trolley Square for a yoga, Pilates, yoga/Pilates fusion or barre class. This intimate studio allows you to practice in a class where the teachers are able to be attentive to your needs. I love this place and its teachers. For more information about class times and schedules visit pureyogapilatesstudio.com.

— Kelly Loeb, Account Manager, Catalyst Visuals, LLC

 

Look for more Worth Trying suggestions throughout this issue!

 

 

Getting Out Indoors

Say farewell to cabin fever with this collection of classes, exhibitions, performing arts, and more

Ushering in post-holiday doldrums and cooped-up blues, winter is arguably one of the dreariest times of year. But fear not: we’ve compiled a list of fun indoor options to get you off the couch and out of the house. From concerts to children’s activities to beer-or-wine-and-yoga sessions (yes, you read that right), we’ve got every taste covered.

Floral Fun at Longwood Gardens
At Longwood Gardens, winter is far from bleary, thanks in part to the annual Orchid Extravaganza, on view this season free with Gardens admission from Jan. 23-March 27. The Conservatory transforms into a tropical oasis featuring Longwood’s largest and most diverse display of orchids ever.

For a personal challenge, try the Botanical Illustration Studio. Use your artistic skills to illustrate plants and flowers from Longwood’s greenhouses and grounds. The studio time gives you a chance to receive individual attention, constructive suggestions, and encouragement. Work at your own pace on your project, large or small, surrounded by fellow artists. This is a six-session course, on Mondays from 12:30-3 p.m., Jan 4-Feb. 8.

DSC_1584-2
Johnny Gallagher

Johnny Gallagher at The Queen
Wilmington native Johnny Gallagher—musician, award-winning actor and Broadway performer—will come to World Cafe Live at The Queen on Friday, Jan. 22, to showcase his singer-songwriter skills.

His debut album, Six Day Hurricane, is set to be released Jan. 15 via Rockwood Music Hall Recordings. The first single of the album, “Two Fists Full,” is available through Soundcloud.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25.

For those up for a jaunt to New York City, Gallagher can be seen on Broadway in the Roundabout Theater Company production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night starting in March.

The Musical Box: Recreation of Genesis’ Foxtrot
In 1972, the English rock band Genesis toured to promote their fourth album, Foxtrot. The first concert on the tour began a trend of combining music and theatre.

The Musical Box—a Sunday, Jan. 17, performance at the Grand’s Copeland Hall—undertakes the reproduction of the original concert to give people an illusion of being at the actual Genesis show. Visual reconstruction of the show is based on photos and slides of the original concerts, magazine articles and first-hand experiences. Tickets are $32-$39.

FSBT102 Cinderella large
Photo courtesy of First State Ballet Theatre

Cinderella at the baby grand
First State Ballet Theatre—Delaware’s professional ballet company—presents Cinderella, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20-21, at the baby grand in Wilmington. The classic fairy tale with the ultimate happy ending is told with wit and elegance. Tickets begin at $14 for students ages 18 and under. Senior, group and military discounts are available. The performance starts at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 21.

Wine, Cheese & Honey Pairings at Penns Woods Winery
Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford, Pa. is teaming up with local cheese and honey artisans to bring exclusive wine, cheese, and honey pairing events on select dates (Jan. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31). Indulge in a sit-down pairing of five premium Penns Woods wines matched with various cheeses and honey from local farms. Admission is $28; reservations are required. Live music is on Jan. 9, 16, 23, and 30 from 2-5 p.m.
Contact Penns Woods at 610-459-0808 to make a reservation.

Great Balls of Fire!
From Feb. 6-May 30, the Great Balls of Fire! exhibit at Delaware Museum of Natural History explores the pop culture fascination of a catastrophic impact from an asteroid or comet. If there was a dinosaur-killer in earth’s past, is there a human-killer in our future? The exhibit asks: What are the chances and how do we assess the risks? For that matter, what are asteroids, comets, and meteorites, and where do they come from?

ChicagoThe Musical at The Playhouse
ChicagoThe Musical has it all: a universal tale of fame, fortune and “all that jazz,” one show-stopping song after another, and fantastic dancing. The award-winning show is coming to The Playhouse Feb. 23-28. Based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, it’s based on actual criminals and crimes she covered. A satire on corruption in the administering of criminal justice, the performance explores the concept of the “celebrity criminal.”

Photo courtesy of Delaware Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Delaware Art Museum

Poetry in Beauty: the Art of Marie Spartali Stillman
Marie Spartali Stillman (1844-1927), one of a small number of professional female artists working in the second half of the 19th century, was an important presence in the Victorian art world of her time and closely affiliated with members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Poetry in Beauty, the first retrospective exhibit of Spartali Stillman’s work, runs through Jan. 31 at Delaware Art Museum. In addition to approximately 50 of her pieces, works from public and private collections in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, many of which have not been exhibited since Spartali Stillman died, will also be on view. After the exhibition, her art will be transported overseas and on view at the Watts Gallery in Guildford, England, through June 5.

Winter Classes & Fun at CCArts
Center for the Creative Arts in Yorklyn offers a bounty of fun and productive wintertime activities. First up, “Ballet for Adults” runs Tuesdays (10-11 a.m.) from Jan. 12-March 15. Study under Ballet Master Val Goncharov in these adult classes. Tuesdays (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) from Jan. 12-March 1, try your hand at oil painting. Learn basic techniques through demonstrations, discussions and application. Tuition is $184 for members and $204 for non-members. For a one-day class on Saturday, Jan. 9, “Glass Fusion” (9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.) will explore the art of melting glass into designs to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Create a sun-catcher, pendant, tray or dish using glass that will be provided. Tuition is $40.

Additionally, try out “Yorklyn Live,” a CCArts Open Mic Night every third Thursday. It’s free, with a cash bar and food. Lastly, a Dinner Theater called “Blind Love” on Saturday, Feb. 6, is about how a blind man sees what a fool does not. People can come for dinner, drinks and dessert. The show is at 7:30 p.m. and tickets, which can be purchased online, are $35.

Call 239-2434 for more information about these activities.

Hagley Fun
Robots: they’ve explored the far reaches of space, the depths of oceans, and the inner workings of the human body. Now children ages 4-14 can explore robots themselves at Hagley’s Invention Convention, from Jan. 16-18.

The weekend includes robotic demonstrations, hands-on engineering challenges, and in-person conversations with professionals who use robots in their daily work. Visitors will discover how the Wilmington Police Department uses bomb robots to dispose of explosive devices, and guests also will take part in tinkering tables, create-an-invention fun, and a hands-on science fair. Invention Convention will be in Hagley’s Soda House and Library. Admission is $8 and $6 for children. Hagley members and children ages 4 and younger get in free.

Additionally, Hagley features the exhibit “Driving Desire: Automobile Advertising and the American Dream” through autumn. It explores the relationship between automobile advertising and Americans’ car buying decisions. Driving Desire is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Yoga in the Paradocx Tank Room
Uncork, relax and unwind at Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg, Pa., on two Sundays—Jan. 10 and Jan. 24—for Yoga in the Tank Room at 11 a.m. Your focus will be drawn away from the everyday hustle and bustle with this unique yoga class in the winery tank room. Each class is designed to relax the mind—and open the senses to encourage a mindful wine-tasting experience. Tickets are $25, and the event includes a 60-minute yoga session with wine tastings of four wines to follow. (Bring your own yoga mat.)

Photo courtesy of Winterthur Museum
Photo courtesy of Winterthur Museum

Winterthur Book Club & Exhibition
Embrace learning and quality time at Winterthur’s Pages of Time: Mother & Daughter Book & Craft Club. On the first Thursday of each month through May, from 6-8 p.m., this is ideal for book worms and crafty girls in 4th-6th grade. Discussions will revolve around historical fiction books, and there will be tasty snacks and crafts related to the book each month. Tickets are $25 per member adult/child pair; $35 per nonmember pair for the complete seven-month series. Winter dates and books include: Jan. 7, Betsy Zane: The Rose of Fort Henry; Feb. 4, Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark; March 3, The Smuggler’s Treasure. Call 800-448-3883 to register and for more dates.

Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia, an exhibition running March 26-Jan. 8, 2017, examines the profound influence of Asia on the arts of colonial Americans. This scholarly exhibition is the first Pan-American study to explore how craftsmen across North, Central, and South America adapted Asian styles in a range of media—from furniture to silverwork, textiles, ceramics, and painting.

Delaware Theatre Company Acting Classes
Attention, aspiring actors: ready to take a step in the right direction? Have fun while exploring characters and scenes in a six-week course at Delaware Theatre Company, Sundays from Feb. 7-March 13 (5:15-7:15 p.m.). Take on the actor’s role of examining scripts, finding characters’ objectives, and exploring various acting techniques to bring out your richest performance. Though no experience is required, students should be ready to participate, to jump in and work together—and have fun. The course is $180, and open to adults ages 18 and up. Classes are also available for children and teens.

Photo courtesy of The Delaware Children's Museum
Photo courtesy of The Delaware Children’s Museum

Touch Tank: Lunch and Learn
Join the Delaware Children’s Museum staff daily from 12:30-1:30 p.m. for feeding time at the Touch Tank Aquarium. Learn about the food marine creatures eat, the habitat they live in, and special facts about the vertebrates and invertebrates who share the tank. Or stop by Try Science: Be a Physiologist, Jan. 9-10, from 11 a.m. to noon, to learn about the body’s parts that work to keep it running. Children can become junior doctors or nurses as they take a hands-on and entertaining look at the organs and systems inside a very unusual patient—the DCM’s 7-ft. doll, Stuffee.

Beer & Yoga at Victory Brewpub
Victory Brewing Company’s Kennett Square brewpub is hosting Beer & Yoga on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 9 a.m. After the yoga session, enjoy food and beer pairings. Instructor Diane Rogers will guide participants through the yoga process. Tickets are $30.

The Ultimate in DIY

A collaborative workspace with digital and traditional fabrication tools, classes, consulting and events, NextFab is coming to downtown Wilmington

To Ryan Harrington, NextFab is “a Disney for makers.”

Mona Parikh says “it’s cool…so much fun.”

Jessi Taylor considers it another after-hours option, an alternative to bars, concerts and television.

Carrie Gray says this “high school woodshop on steroids” will be a key anchor for Wilmington’s developing Creative District.

And Bernice Whaley sees it as an economic engine, a place where men and women can learn and develop skills needed to transition into new jobs or launch entrepreneurial careers.

Clearly, NextFab means different things to different people, but what else can you expect when an operation brands itself as a “gym for innovators”?

Evan Malone, NextFab CEO (Photo by Megan Ritchie Jooste)
Evan Malone, NextFab CEO (Photo by Megan Ritchie Jooste)

Area residents will get their chance to create their own description in late spring or early summer when the Philadelphia-based makerspace opens a 3,500-square-foot satellite studio in the Creative District, the designation that the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation has pinned on the area bordered by Shipley, Fourth, Washington and Ninth streets. As of mid-December, NextFab CEO Evan Malone wasn’t about to reveal the exact location, saying he didn’t want to jinx the nearly concluded negotiations on the lease.

Malone, enticed by Gray, the Wilmington Renaissance managing director, came to visit Wilmington nearly two years ago, as planning for the Creative District was in its infancy, and quickly bought into the concept. “This is incredibly important, something I want to be part of,” he says, referring to a master plan to make the area immediately west of Market Street a residential and commercial hub for artists, crafters and tech-savvy entrepreneurs.

“This is a new era for Wilmington,” Malone says.

Financed in part by a $350,000 start-up grant from the Delaware Economic Development Office, NextFab’s Wilmington center will be designed to offer the attractions that have already won it an influential cadre of Delaware boosters, albeit on a smaller scale than in Philadelphia.

Examples of 3D printed objects made at NextFab. (Photo courtesy of NextFab)
Examples of 3D printed objects made at NextFab. (Photo courtesy of NextFab)

Gray’s “woodshop on steroids” analogy is appropriate. Think of a warehouse-like setting filled with tools for woodworking and metalworking—more than your average handyman could put in a garage or basement (if he or she could afford to buy them all). Add a section for making jewelry. On top of that, layer in the whiz-bang 21st-century technology—3D and large-format printers, laser cutters, CAD software, and more. In addition, NextFab will offer classes and its staff will be trained to show new users how to handle the equipment.

“The focus is on digital manufacturing—using computer designs in digital format to drive robotic tools,” Malone says, “but we also have a complete metal shop, with computer-controlled machine tools and manual tools like mills and lathes, and a complete welding area.” The wood shop, with its saws, sanders, drills and routers, he adds, “is a great entry point for people who are nervous about making things for themselves for the first time.”

To use the gear, members pay monthly fees, which range from $49 to $359, depending on anticipated usage. “The low end is for weekend users and hobbyists. The ultra-premium level is aimed at professionals, those who are using the facility for their business,” Malone says. Wilmington members will also have access to NextFab’s two Philadelphia sites for no extra charge.

Access to all three spaces is important, Malone notes, because there might not be enough space in Wilmington to accommodate all the gear that’s available in Philadelphia.

An introduction to jewerly-making class at NextFab. (Photo courtesy of NextFab)
An introduction to jewerly-making class at NextFab. (Photo courtesy of NextFab)

However, he adds, the Wilmington site will have one or more features to distinguish itself from NextFab’s Philadelphia locations—to give Philadelphia-based members some incentive to make occasional visits to Wilmington. No decisions have been made on what those special features might be.

Key figures within Wilmington’s creative community are anticipating NextFab’s arrival.

“It’s a great way for people to learn,” says Harrington, education coordinator at 1313 Innovation, the year-old co-working space in Hercules Plaza. “They come with experience.
They’re starting with a platform that works, as they’ve proven in Philadelphia. It’s another outlet for people, whether they’re in technology, in a startup, or part of the maker community.”

Parikh, managing director of the Start It Up Delaware co-working space and community builder for the Archer Group digital marketing agency, recently visited NextFab in Philadelphia, where she and friends signed up to take a couple of basic courses.

“First you must go through their safety training,” she says, and “as part of that you have to make something that works.”

For woodworking, she made a shelf. For metalworking, a bottle opener.
“Who knows?” she says. “If I keep my membership I might be the next metalworking queen.”

The NextFab community brands itself as a "gym for innovators." (Photo courtesy of NextFab)
The NextFab community brands itself as a “gym for innovators.” (Photo courtesy of NextFab)

Taylor, president of the board of directors of Barrel of Makers, a Wilmington-based collaborative that now holds weekly “Maker Mondays” at 1313 Innovation, thinks NextFab will provide “a great space to have cross-communication with people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet in your field.”

NextFab has approached Barrel of Makers about possible partnerships. “We think that’s great,” Taylor says, “but we’re going to have to talk it through” to see how the relationship evolves.

Barrel of Makers, she says, has about 30 core participants and a total of nearly 200 people who show up occasionally for activities, and many of them are likely candidates for NextFab membership.

Besides reaching out to Barrel of Makers, Malone says he has contacted area colleges and universities about possible collaborations. And he has learned from his experience in Philadelphia that professional organizations, hobby clubs and school groups will be interested in visiting the site and learning about the technology. Some of these visitors, of course, ultimately will become NextFab members.

Whaley, the director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, says NextFab “will directly support our innovative entrepreneurs” and also bolster indirect job growth in the surrounding area. The terms of the state’s $350,000 grant require NextFab to hire five fulltime employees and serve at least 120 members in its first three years of operation, she says.

Noting the uncertainty surrounding the DuPont Co.’s merger with Dow Chemical and the long-term location of the headquarters for Chemours, the DuPont spinoff created last summer, Whaley pointed to NextFab as a facility that could assist downsized employers in transitioning to new careers.

“We’ve seen it with AstraZeneca and others. [Downsized] workers say ‘I can do these things’ or ‘I can go out on my own.’ This is one way they can develop new skills,” Whaley says.

NextFab, Wilmington Renaissance’s Gray says, “will make accessible equipment, technology and training that might not otherwise be available” to area residents.
What can they make with that equipment?

Well, in Philadelphia, Malone says, members are using large-format printers to make vehicle wraps and window graphics, tools in the advanced electronics studio to design and assemble circuit boards, and laser cutters to make holiday ornaments and candle holders.

One heavy-duty user, who has his own business, is using a “water jet” (that’s shorthand for a five-axis abrasive water jet cutter) to experiment with new designs to make window air conditioners more energy efficient.

To Gray, however, more important than what NextFab’s makers make is the potential impact the center can have as the Creative District develops.

By filling a currently vacant building, she says, NextFab will “bring more energy and life to the stretch just west of Market Street.”

The impact will be gradual, Malone cautions, because his plan to be “up and running by summer” most likely means operating at about 75 percent of capacity while advancing to close to 100 percent capacity later in the year.

“Because a lot of our users have day jobs, we will have evening and weekend hours,” Malone says. “Activity on the street and in our space will help activate the entire neighborhood.”

That activity, he says, will bring new customers to restaurants and service businesses in the neighborhood, and to the vendors who can provide the raw materials that artists and crafters use in their work. “There’s a lot of indirect economic activity,” he adds.

Getting more people onto the streets in the evening and on weekends, Gray says, should make the neighborhood more appealing for potential residents —the 10-unit Willing Street Artist Village housing rehabilitation project is now under way in Quaker Hill, in the southwest corner of the Creative District—and visitors alike.

Parikh envisions NextFab’s arrival as a launching pad for fresh synergies among the artists and crafters who use the space and the graphic designers and coders who frequent the CoinLoft on Market Street, Start It Up Delaware’s collaborative space.

“We’re all in this together,” she says.

F.Y.I – Jan. 2016

FYI

Things worth knowing

Pencil This In
Sharpen your skills at DCAD Drawing Marathon

Join Delaware College of Art & Design faculty, staff and students in a celebration of observational drawing on Saturday, Jan. 23. DCAD’s 11th annual Figure Drawing Marathon will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the school’s just-renovated second-floor space. The Marathon will provide participants the opportunity to pick up pointers and inspiration by drawing alongside DCAD students, staff, and faculty. New this year is Draw & Discover, a family-friendly event taking place in the Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery from noon to 3 p.m. and featuring observational drawing fun for families and friends. To register visit dcad.edu.

Showtime
WilmFilm Festival moves to March

The WilmFilm Festival will return to the Penn Cinema Riverfront for a fourth year on March 10-13 with screenings of up to two dozen “movies that matter,” as well as the always popular compendium of “Delaware Shorts.” Previously the event was held in late April. The schedule will also include “movies you missed” (strong films that might not have attracted great attention when they were released), said event owner Barry Schlecker. Ticket information and the full schedule will be announced in late February and will be available at wilmfilm.com.

Hot Wheels
Wilmington Grand Prix named to national circuit

The Wilmington Grand Prix has once again been named to USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar (NRC), maintaining the event’s status as one of the premier bike races in the country. Though more than 3,000 criterium-style races take place annually in the U.S., only 24 were named to the NRC. This year’s Grand Prix is set for May 13-15, and will mark the 10-year anniversary of the event. Last year’s race drew 838 racers and riders from 33 states and 13 countries. Visit wilmgrandprix.com.

My Hometown
Local author pens book about growing up in Claymont

Local author Kevin M. Francis recently published a 174-page paperback recounting his experiences growing up in Claymont during the 1970s. Titled Green Tree: Growing Up a Below Average Kid in an Average Town in the Above Average Decade of the 1970s, the book was edited by Terrance Patrick Hanrahan and Greg Schauer, proprietor of Claymont’s Between Books 2.0. “I wrote it as a valentine to my hometown but I would venture the reader would not need to have been a ‘Claymonster’ nor even a participant of the 1970s to enjoy it,” says Francis. You can purchase Green Tree at lulu.com.

Robotics Rocks
Hagley hosts annual Invention Convention

Robots, how they work and their potential impact on society is the focus at this year’s Invention Convention at Hagley Museum and Library Jan 16-18. The event includes demonstrations, hands-on engineering challenges, and in-person conversations with professionals who use robots in their daily work. Featured science shows include Cool Chemistry and the Franklin Institute’s Motions and Machines. The Convention will be held daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For admission charges and more visit hagley.org.

Major Save
Conservation partnership obtains key Odessa property

A 1,250-acre farm near Odessa has been purchased by The Conservation Fund and donated to Delaware Wild Lands (DWL) for permanent protection and management. The entire conservation acquisition was made possible with a grant from Mt. Cuba Center, and creates more than 10,000 acres of contiguous and protected wildlife habitat in the Odessa region. Known as the Taylors Bridge Roberts Farm, the site was one of the largest unprotected tracts remaining in the Delaware Bay coastal zone, featuring freshwater tidal wetlands and remnants of forested coastal plain ponds. DWL will develop a long-term management plan for the property that will include farming, hunting, trapping, wildlife tours and bird walks. School and university groups will visit the property for research and educational opportunities. For more information visit DeWildLands.org.

The War on Words – Jan. 2016

A monthly column in which we attempt, however futilely, to defend the English language against misuse and abuse

The Top (Bottom?) 10

Herewith a list of the top 10 misused words. Said list is based on indisputable empirical evidence (in other words, my personal observations):
1. fewer/less – Fewer, which applies where numbers or plurals are involved, is simply not in some people’s vocabularies. Less is used for quantity. You have less money because you have fewer dollars.
2. i.e./e.g. – I.e., which means “that is,” is often mistakenly used in place of e.g., which means “for example.”
3. affect/effect – The first is almost always a verb (“It didn’t affect me”); the second, a noun (“It had no effect on me”).
4. your/you’re – The first is the possessive (“Your hair is beautiful”); the second is the contraction (“You’re beautiful”).
5. their/they’re/there – The mix-up occurs with the first two—the possessive (“Their business is booming”) and the contraction (“They’re doing big business”). There is less troublesome but much more versatile. It can be used as an adverb, adjective, noun, pronoun, or even an interjection. It’s often used to indicate place (“Let’s go there”).
6. it’s/its – This understandably confuses some folks because apostrophes often indicate possessives, but in this case the possessive (“Its branches were bare”) has no apostrophe, while the contraction (“It’s cloudy today”) does.
7. lie, lay – This is another case where one—lie—is rarely used. Lay means to place; lie means to recline. So: “I am going to lie down”; “I will lay the gun down.”
8. alumnus/alumni – Again, the first, which means a male graduate of an educational institution, is rarely used (and never on sports talk radio). Instead, the semi-learned among us go with alumni, which is the plural. If you want to be safe, go with the colloquial “alum.”
9. infer/implyInfer, which means to deduce, conclude or assume, is often used by wannabe sophisticates in place of imply, which means to suggest or hint. Think of them as opposites.
10. A tie: compliment/complement and bring/take. Compliment refers to praise or accolades. Complement means to supplement or accompany, as in a wine that complements an entree. Bring is often used where take is meant. The choice depends on your point of reference. In most cases bring suggests movement toward the speaker (“Bring it to me”) while take suggests movement away from the speaker (“Take it to your brother”).
Next month: the most common redundancies.

Your Assignment, Dear Readers,

. . . should you decide to accept it, is to make note of every time someone utters the words “happy New Years” in your presence. Report back. Extra credit for photos of signs that wish you a “Happy New Year’s” or “New Years.”

It Never Ends

“Couldn’t care less” continues to be misused, even by editorial writers, such as those at the Philadelphia Daily News: “[Politicians] could care less about the hurt it [a spending cut] will cause.” Think about it: that’s the opposite of what the phrase is intended to convey.

Getting Political

The presidential campaign continues to supply us with material. Reader Larry Kerchner says one of the Republicans came up with a Department of Redundancies Dept. candidate by claiming he is going to “unify everything together.”

Fun Fact

According to The New Yorker, octogenarian crooner Pat Boone, an aspiring English teacher at the time, insisted on announcing his first big hit onstage as “Isn’t That a Shame.” (The title was “Ain’t That a Shame.”)

How Long, Oh Lord, How Long?

(In which we record the continuing abuse of that most misused punctuation mark, the apostrophe.)
Citing a new car reliability survey, USA Today’s Chris Woodyard reports, “. . . Fiat, Dodge, Chrysler and Ram finished generally near the bottom of the pack, as brand’s go.”

Follow me on Twitter: @thewaronwords

Seen a good (bad) one lately?
Send your candidates to ryearick@comcast.net

Words* of the Month

bathos
Pronounced BAY-thas, -thos, it’s a noun meaning an abrupt descent from lofty or sublime to the commonplace; anticlimax

xenophile
Pronounced ZEN-uh-fyl or ZEE-nuh-fyl, it’s a noun meaning one who is attracted to foreign things or people.

*Several readers noted that we had no Word of the Month in December. So, to make amends, we’re offering a bonus word this month.

Food Notes – Nov. 2015

Tasty things worth knowing

A New Beginning
French-style cafe opens in place of Fresh Thymes

Croissant

After Wilmington’s Fresh Thymes Cafe closed its doors recently, a new French-style eatery, De La Coeur Café et Patisserie, took its place. Alex Sianni and Pastry Chef Gretchen Brizendine helm the new café, whose name means “baking from the heart.” It features locally sourced, sustainably produced food.

Brizendine has been in the restaurant business for more than seven years, and Sianni has been in the business in three countries and the fine wine industry for more than 15 years.
The café’s food is sourced from Powers Farm in Townsend, Bayberry Farm in Middletown and Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative in Lancaster.

Located at 1836 Lovering Ave., it will serve breakfast, including sandwiches, omelets, pancakes, French toast, and crepes; lunch, featuring soups, salads, sandwiches and paninis, and of course a variety of pastries like éclairs, croissants, cookies, tartlettes, mousse cups, and more.

Visit the website at delacoeurcafe.com for the opening date and more information.

Expanding to Middletown
Wilmington chef has plans for three new eateries

Patrick D’Amico, Middletown native and chef at several Wilmington eateries like Eclipse Bistro, the Hotel du Pont Green Room, and Harry’s Savoy Grill, is opening three Middletown restaurants with RM Hospitality Group over the next few months.

Metro Pub & Grill is the first of the three, which will be a gastro-pub at 17 Wood St. off West Main Street. It will be open daily for lunch and dinner early this month.
Next, a fine dining establishment tentatively called The Bank will open in January.
Currently the site—an actual vacant bank building at West Main and North Broad streets—is undergoing renovations.

The third name and location are TBA.

Do Good This Season
Food Bank of Delaware needs help

This month, IHeartRadio in partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware will be collecting turkeys as part of the annual Turkey Round Up. Drop off your frozen birds and other holiday essentials at the following locations on Thursday, Nov. 12. and Friday, Nov. 13, between 5-7 p.m. both evenings: Food Lion grocery stores at 1607 Pulaski Highway in Bear, 501 W. Main St. in Middletown, and 1030 Forest Ave. in Dover.

Additionally, the Food Bank needs help filling 2,500 Thanksgiving meal boxes for Delaware families in need. The following items are requested: Canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, evaporated milk/shelf-stable milk, canned pumpkin, canned fruit, juice, corn muffin mix, mashed potatoes, gravy, and frozen turkeys (must be dropped off to Newark or Milford warehouses).

For more information about hosting a Thanksgiving For All food drive, please contact Angel Diaz, Fleet and Routing Coordinator, at 292-1305 ext. 260 or adiaz@fbd.org.

Dinner & a Documentary
Penn Cinema hosts a special one-night screening Nov. 5

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers one of the most destructive industries facing the planet today—large scale factory farming—and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. This 91-minute documentary will be featured at a one-night screening on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at Penn Cinema on the Riverfront. Prior to the showing, guests are invited to dinner at Drop Squad Kitchen (serving dinner until 6:30 p.m.) or for happy hour at Veritas Wine (both also located at the Wilmington Riverfront). You can also enjoy the Riverwalk or one of the other dining attractions the Wilmington Riverfront has to offer.

Claymont Steak Expands
Third location opens on Concord Pike

ThinkstockPhotos-174449396Claymont Steak Shop opened a new location at 2720 Concord Pike this fall, making this the third restaurant in the local chain, with existing locations in Claymont and Newark.
Since 1966, Claymont Steak has been popular for its cheesesteaks, subs and pizza. The new location, with a contemporary interior, and online and delivery options, includes baklava and other snacks in addition to its staple plates.

Trolley Square: Transitioning

Shedding its raucous legacy, the area has become a friendly small town within a large city. And more changes are coming.

No one expects Trolley Square to easily surrender its cachet as a premier social and dining destination for Wilmington’s young professionals, but don’t be surprised if the neighborhood’s anthem flips from “Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall” to the more sedate “A Bicycle Built for Two.”

“For a long time Trolley was like a college town without a college: a lot of young professionals, a lot of bars and restaurants, and it was very vibrant,” says Jim Lee, president of the Delaware Avenue Community Association, whose turf stretches from Pennsylvania Avenue and I-95 north and west to the Brandywine and the B&O Railroad tracks, which takes in the core Trolley Square business district. “Now it’s more of a destination for people interested in healthy lifestyles.”

For that, Lee says, “you need three things: food, fitness and families.”

There’s no doubt that Trolley has plenty of the first two; the third, some might say, is on the way.

“It seems like a good place to raise a family,” says Wilmington attorney Wali Rushdan, who lived in an apartment building at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Clayton Street before he and his wife bought a house last year two blocks to the west, at the corner of Delaware and Scott Street. “Technically, I’m in Forty Acres,” Rushdan admits, demonstrating his knowledge of neighborhood boundaries, but the shops and eateries on what Lee drily refers to as “the other side of the tracks” have long contributed to Trolley’s energetic vibe.

Located in the heart of an area first settled in the Civil War era and largely developed in the early 20th century, Trolley Square is actually a name of relatively recent vintage. From 1864 until the 1970s, Wilmington’s horse-drawn trolleys, electric trolleys and buses were kept in a barn fronting on the north side of Delaware Avenue between Clayton and DuPont streets. After the buses were moved under I-95 in 1974, a three-story retail and office complex was built on the site. It opened in 1978 with Trolley Square as its name. In short order, “Trolley Square” became a convenient designation for the commercial and residential areas near the center.

The iconic Logan House is the oldest continuously family-owned Irish bar in the country.
The iconic Logan House is the oldest continuously family-owned Irish bar in the country.

“It’s a friendly, small town walking atmosphere, a small town within a large city,” says Lori Dorsz, property manager and co-owner of Trolley Investors LLC, operator of three apartment buildings on the southeast corner of Delaware Avenue and Clayton Street. Neighborhood residents, she says, are a mix of “caring people who have lived in this area for a long time and an influx of kids who come in for a couple of years to start their careers.” On top of that, she adds, “you have a solid, successful merchant base that is just feeding into what young professionals want, and a healthy lifestyle. We have tennis courts two blocks away, a yoga studio, a bike store and a local food market.”

Not only is that mix the key to Trolley’s success, it’s a formula that could thrive in other parts of Wilmington, says Leonard Sophrin, the city’s planning director.

Developing a City-Wide Plan

Sophrin and his staff are now starting work on a new comprehensive plan for the entire city, one that will take into account what already exists as well as community-based planning initiatives in various stages of implementation, like West Side Grows Together, Eastside Rising and the nascent Creative District downtown.

“As we develop a citywide plan, we would like to replicate Trolley Square’s pattern of mixed-use businesses in close proximity to a residential neighborhood,” Sophrin says.

While Trolley Square has its landmarks—starting with the iconic Logan House, originally a hotel and now touted as the oldest continuously family-owned Irish bar in the country—the area wasn’t transformed from a neighborhood to a destination until the late 1970s and early ‘80s.

Restaurateur Xavier Teixido came upon the Trolley scene in 1983, as minority partner with Davis Sezna at the then-new Kid Shelleen’s. “It was the heart of the Yuppie Boom. The apartments were being done, the banks were booming. There was nothing upscale in Trolley Square,” Teixido recalls.

But the nightlife was nonstop.

“When we opened, we aimed at the 21-to-35 demographic and we didn’t care about anybody else,” he says.

Teixido split with Sezna in 1993, so he could focus on his other restaurant ventures, and he bought Kid Shelleen’s in 2010. “When we came back, our goal was to reset it to 1983,” he says.

“Everyone From 8 to 80”

But something had changed. The raucous Thursday night dance parties were no longer a good fit with the neighborhood. “There was a lot of noise when the bar let out at 1 a.m.,” Teixido says, and rather than battle with residents, he shut down the dance parties. “We decided to focus more on food, hospitality and our relationship with the community,” he says. “Now we cater to everyone from 8 to 80. I’d say ‘everyone from 4 to 90,’ but you wouldn’t believe me.”

Just as Kid Shelleen’s has, in a sense, reached its maturity, so too has Trolley Square.
“Those hell-raisers in the neighborhood of a generation ago—I won’t name names—are now some of the community leaders,” Teixido says.

Chiropractor Matt Weik was too young to have been a hell-raiser—his parents moved the family out of Trolley Square when he was 5—but he came back two years ago, partnering with fellow Salesianum School graduate Carl Bakomenko to open the Delaware Sport and Spine Clinic at 1426 N. Clayton. Weik lives on North Union Street; Bakomenko regularly walks to work from his home in the nearby Triangle neighborhood.

“We like the young environment, the urban setting, the number of health-conscious people,” Bakomenko says.

Weik likes being able to walk everywhere he needs to go—from work to home and back, for meals, for shopping, for entertainment. “I don’t feel that there’s any other spot in Wilmington that can give you that,” he says.

Maybe, but with the rebirth of downtown Market Street and the development of new housing options on the Riverfront, it’s clear that Trolley is no longer the city’s only live-work-play hotspot.

All three areas, while sharing some similarities, have distinct personalities.

The Riverfront and Market Street, with still-developing residential components, remain primarily places where people work during the day and visit on evenings and weekends.

“The Riverfront is kind of its own area, separated by the railroad tracks and the river. It’s a destination. Market Street is a destination too,” says Teixido, who also owns Harry’s Seafood Grill on the Riverfront. In Trolley, he says, the well-established neighborhood means “there are always people dropping by.”

Jonas Miller, proprietor of Eeffoc’s Café, echoes that view. Miller opened the first Eeffoc’s in the Riverfront Market and added a location in Trolley Square after he discovered that many of his Riverfront patrons lived in Trolley Square. “At the Riverfront, we do primarily a lunch business. We do a really good morning business here, and the weekends are crazy,” says Miller.

Trolley resident Rushdan notes that the neighborhood’s multiple housing options make it more affordable for people of most income levels. “I’m all in favor of trying to make the city better,” he says, but developers at the Riverfront and on Market Street “seem to be pricing people out of some neighborhoods.”

“Young professionals who marry and have families are staying rather than moving to the suburbs,” says seven-year resident Erin Marshall. “They see the value of a nice community feeling, of being so close to downtown.”

DSC_8127-2-web
Jim Lee, president of the Delaware Avenue Community Association, at Trolley Square Brew Ha Ha! A Tom Burke birdhouse is in the background.

Looking to Get Edgier

Residents and business owners emphasize that Trolley cannot rest on its laurels. It has to continue to diversify its offerings and freshening up its appearance.

“In the face of what’s happening elsewhere in the city, it needs a little more edge,” says Alisa Morkides, owner of the Brew Ha Ha cafés. Morkides gave her Trolley Square presence a fresh look this spring by opening a new, larger coffee roastery and converting her former café into Sunna, a juice bar and whole foods eatery.

“If you look back 20 years, nothing much has changed,” she says, pointing to the appearance of both the shopping center and the Rockford Shoppes, where her businesses are located.

“It needs, and I’m not sure I’m saying this quite right, a little more beauty,” Morkides says. “Perhaps flowers on the light poles, more art, more gardens—to build on what’s already there.”

Chiropractors Weik and Bakomenko are both fans of street art, something they saw in abundance when they lived in Philadelphia. “If we could incorporate some esthetically pleasing artwork, like on the railroad overpass by the Logan House, that would really improve the area,” Bakomenko says.

Marcia Stephenson, membership and volunteer coordinator at the Delaware Center for Horticulture, whose headquarters is on Du Pont Street a block north of the shopping center, notes that the organization has been engaged in numerous beautification projects in the area over the years, with even more planned.

“We’re trying to work more with volunteer groups, to do more plantings in public landscapes,” she says. As one example, she mentions the bulb plantings in the lot behind the Logan House, at the corner of Gilpin Avenue and DuPont Street.

“We’re really engaging neighbors in the process. It’s crucial,” she says. “They will enjoy the beauty but to have them participate is even better. It’s one thing to take care of your front yard, but even more meaningful to do something to beautify the community.”

Spicing Up the Food Options

Brew Ha Ha owner Morkides also hopes to see “more interesting food” in Trolley, “maybe a cool noodle bar or a Peruvian restaurant…How may Irish pubs, how many pizza places can you have?”

Some of that change is already occurring. Two recent arrivals to the shopping center, El Diablo and Opa Opa, offer tempting Mexican and Greek options, respectively, at moderate prices.

Another fresh entrant to the shopping center is the Delaware Local Food Exchange, featuring organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Proprietor Karen Igou says she hadn’t planned to locate in Trolley Square but it turned out to be the best of her options when she outgrew space inside a health-food store in Elsmere.

Based on her first weeks in business—the shop opened in July—she feels she made a good choice. “Now that I’m here, I realize what a nice community this is,” she says. Her old customers, even those who live in the suburbs, like the new location, she says. As for the local residents who keep dropping in, “They’re a lot of vegans, very health-conscious. They like low-fat, gluten-free vegan food. That’s pretty cool.”

Healthy dining and organic foods aren’t the only indicators of the fitness/wellness vibe in Trolley.

Selling a Cycling Lifestyle

Chuck Hall opened a bicycle shop on Delaware Avenue nearly three years ago and rebranded it last winter as Trolley Bikes, selling only recreational bikes—no high-end road bikes. “We sell a lot of bikes for families who want to ride the greenways with their children, and a lot to commuters who want to bike to work,” he says.

Hall says he has attracted a strong following in the neighborhood, as well as from nearby communities the Highlands and more affluent areas on the western edge of the city.

Trolley Bikes also runs the Trolley Square Cycling Club, which organizes group rides for cyclists several nights a week. The rides start at the shop and conclude with beverages and eats at a nearby restaurant—Toscana, Anejo or the Trolley Taphouse.

Cycling is a great way to keep fit and enjoy the neighborhood’s attractions, Hall says. “There’s nothing better on a great evening than to get on your bike, ride down to Trolley Square, shop and enjoy the restaurants, and, when you’re done, bike home instead of driving.”

For those who prefer to walk or run, Trolley offers plenty of options.

Jason Hoover, who operates a website design business from his home and meets with clients at cafes like Brew Ha Ha and Eeffoc’s, enjoys running in Brandywine and Rockford parks or heading north onto the trails in Alapocas. Alan Emsley, former president of the Delaware Avenue Community Association, calls Trolley “the ultimate walking community, and it’s been that way for a long, long time.”

As idyllic as Trolley Square might be for many of its residents, it’s not without its problems.

Finding a parking spot on the street can be a challenge, especially on Friday nights.

“Sometimes you’ve got to park two or three blocks from your home,” Rushdan says.

But, says Jim Lee, “I’d rather be a neighborhood with a lot of traffic and parking issues than a neighborhood that’s empty because nobody wants to go there.”

A recent rash of burglaries and thefts has some neighbors concerned. “For the most part, it’s stealing packages off the porch,” Emsley says.

“We live in the city, in a nice part of the city, but we have to accept some things that come with the environment that we’re in,” says Marshall, who is vice president and safety chair of the Delaware Avenue Community Association. “The police officers we have working with us value the fact that residents care about the safety of their neighborhoods.”

Nightspot operators and some residents have their occasional dustups, like the one that prompted Kid Shelleen’s to drop its Thursday night dance parties a few years ago. That’s part and parcel of the neighborhood, Marshall says.

“A lot of people move to the area because of the nightlife. That’s what makes the community what it is, but you don’t want an out-of-control bar scene anywhere,” she says. “The bar owners want to be part of the community. They try as best they can.”

A sore spot for some residents is the dated appearance of some of the commercial buildings, especially the shopping center. “It could use a little TLC,” Marshall says. But Lee and Emsley noted that a complex condo-like ownership structure has made it difficult for proprietors to reach agreement on making upgrades and repairs.

And while the shopping center bears the community’s nameplate, it isn’t Trolley’s heart and soul.

“When I think of Trolley Square, I don’t focus on that building,” Marshall says. “I think of the restaurants and shops on the other side of the street.”

“What makes Trolley dynamic is its culture and its people,” Rushdan says, “and that more than makes up for the dated look of some of its buildings.”